THE FUTURE OF ELECTRIC CARS IN UGANDA ;GOVT SHOULD SIGN OFFTAKE AGREEMENTS WITH LOCAL VEHICLE PRODUCERS

Controversial UK Prime  Minister Boris Johnson is  expected to unveil a green 10-point plan in which he proposes a ban on  the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

In effect once the ban is okayed it  will bring forward the current 2040 prohibition on the sale of gas and diesel cars to 2035, or earlier.  This is after  Johnson promised a self-styled green industrial revolution to meet a law calling for net-zero emissions by 2050, and has  set a target to create 2million green jobs by 2030.

He is seeking to balance car industry concerns with climate goals. And the UK Prime Minister is not alone in championing the green -mobility automotive industry revolution .

Already, global carmaker giants like, Nissan,  BMW, Volvo among others – have made it public that the future for electric cars is now- with electric motors- the kind that is used to drive the Kiira Motors – Kayoola EVS -the fully electric buses that are currently offering shuttle services for the staff of  Uganda  Civil Aviation Authority (UCCA)  .

Geely, Volvo’s Chinese owner, has been quietly pushing ahead with electric car development for more than a decade the same time -span  which has taken Uganda’s automotive industry captain -Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) to finally put their green mobility products on the road for public use .

It is no longer a secret that in the next 10 years the -multibillion US dollars -global automotive industry is going to be  drastically transformed with electric vehicles taking center stage as governments around the world embrace environmentally friendly means of mobility especially in the urban centers to reduce wide spread carbon emission pollution that causes the death of million of people every year  .

Uganda should not be left behind in the race to greening mobility . Government partnering with private sector players should rally behind Uganda’s budding  indigenous Motor Vehicle Industry and harness its great potential  for national economic and social transformation.

Some sceptics have questioned government’s decision to ban the importation of  fully built buses- arguing that Uganda has no capacity nor the required human resource to produce buses on a large scale . These were the same fellows who mocked  KMC some 8 years ago  that the company had no chance of putting a moving vehicle on the road.

They have been proved wrong . KMC has not only produce several moving vehicles but electric ones thus reducing the gap in terms of technology development and advancement with other global industry players . The  company has also signed on  a celebrated global automotive engineering and business executive , entrepreneur and author,  Mr. Edward T. Hightower as the company’s Automotive Industry Advisor.  Hightower,  who has worked for global carmaker giants Ford, BMW, and GM, will provide technical advice, expertise, coach and mentor the Kiira Motors Corporation team to define, develop and implement the most appropriate strategy to identify and address Regional and African Continental Market Opportunities; Commercial and Product Strategies; Supply Chain Localization; and Investor Attraction and Sounding.

This places  Uganda -close to the global carmaker giants- that are now positioning themselves to cash in on electric and or fuel efficient vehicles that are designed to mitigate  the unprecedented pollution levels in our urban centers where people drive  second hand vehicles with -end- of life technologies averaging  16 years old. .

And KMC- apart from being the country’s car maker flagship -is not alone in Uganda’s nascent automotive industry space.  The industry has some established aftermarket parts manufacturers participating in domestic value addition and these include Uganda batteries Ltd – the local market leader in auxiliary battery production, Nile Batteries Ltd, Nice House of Plastics , GM Tumpeco, Henkel, Electric Controls  and switch Gear ltd among others.

There are also local jua-kali companies that are engaged in  assembly and remanufacturing of buses and truck bodies  such as Rubaga Bus Boy Builders, Kamoga Body Builders, Master Coach Builders ,  Godfrey Namunye body modification workshop.

Other vehicle assembly activities  in Uganda  include assembly at the Armored Vehicle Manufacturing and Assembly facility in Magamaga ,-Jinja, MetuZhongtong  Industries in Namanve Industrial Park,  and Bakayira Diesel Garage in Katwe.  These local companies need to be supported to increase their skills and production levels .

 KMC is a government owned company which has demonstrated that it can produce vehicles which are now being driven on Ugandan roads. It is imperative therefore , that  government  nurtures its baby by offering Kiira Motors  and other actors -offtake agreements to produce buses and other utility vehicles (both electric and fuel efficient combustion engine ones) locally.

By supporting the local car manufacturing industry government will inherently be facilitating  an unprecedented opportunity- to promote value addition to Uganda’s mineral and other natural resources. This will lead  to import substitution and export promotion of vehicles, parts, components and systems because Uganda is already endowed with wealth of  minerals, which can be used for vehicle parts manufacturing.

Some of the minerals include iron ore for automotive steel; silica sand for glass; rare earth elements for glass glazing, catalytic converters, batteries, & electronics; graphite for brake pads; oil for plastics; cobalt & lithium for batteries; kaolin, marble and vermiculite for paint; tungsten, columbite, tantalite, chromite and titanium for metal alloys; copper for auto electric conductors and motors  interalia .

We should note however, that as KMC champions the new home grown -green mobility technologies in EAC and Africa -which are key to reducing pollution -there are too expensive to work without subsidization from government . Bottom-line , we should get rid of the  dangerous and dirty  millions of used cars that are dumped in  our country every other year .

The writer is a Media and Communications Consultant /Trainer

and Advocate of the High Court of Ugandamsserwanga@gmail.com

MOSES SSERWANGA

Writer is a media and communications consultant And Advocate of the High Court of Uganda

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